Local MSP Jackie Baillie has called for answers from the SNP Government in Edinburgh on Scotland’s railways, as Scotrail slashes Sunday services between Dumbarton and Balloch.

Services across Scotland will be reduced by a third on Sundays due to ongoing disputes with Aslef, the train drivers’ union. Trains from Balloch to Glasgow used to leave every 30 minutes but following the cuts there is only one service per hour on Sundays calling at Balloch and stations in the Vale of Leven.

Jackie said that drivers having to volunteer for Sunday shifts was ‘ridiculous’ as it  emerged Dutch firm Abellio, who run the franchise, did not bid for the service on the basis of a seven day working week.

The MSP backs a Peoples’ ScotRail, where a non-profit public sector organisation could bid to run Scotland’s railways

Scottish Labour has called for Keith Brown to answer why the bid wasn’t for a seven day week, and what, if any, agreements in the deal have been breached.

Jackie said:

“This is a complete and utter shambles, it seems beyond belief that in 21st century Scotland a seven day working week was not factored into a multi-year, multi-million rail service that the people of Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh are paying for.

“No one wants to see industrial action but to end up in the situation where drivers have to volunteer for shifts to get them covered is ridiculous.

“Last year the SNP Government in Edinburgh hailed this deal, worth hundreds of millions of taxpayer cash, as world leading and cost effective -; so why is it running into such problems so soon?

“The SNP need to explain why a seven day working week wasn’t factored into the bidding process, and clarify what, if any, agreements in the franchise have been breached.

“If there have been breaches to the agreement months into the deal, then the SNP Government should be looking for compensation to the public purse – taxpayers in West Dunbartonshire and Helensburgh and Lomond shouldn’t have to pay for cancelled services.

“Scottish Labour back a People’s ScotRail which would allow for a public sector non-profit bid to run the railways, an operator that would be more accountable to the Scottish public. After the problems since Abellio took over, it is an idea whose time has come.”

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